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As much as I love all things sweet, this week I was really craving that savoury fix so I figured why not try baking some pies? For these pies I attempted my hand at making some hot water crust pastry which I have never done before, to be honest it is not ridiculously hard but I did make a bit of a mess in the process. Next time I will remember that adding boiling water to a pan of melted hot fat probably isn’t the best idea ever…. So notice to the wise, don’t try that one at home.

Ok, these are my take on a chicken, bacon and onion snack pie. They do take a fair amount of time to make and I advise leaving them to chill overnight to give adequate setting time.

Firstly heat your oven to 190°C (Gas mark 5) and grease a 12 hole muffin tin. I suggest you prepare the filling that you are going to use first so that it is ready for when you need it. For the filling finely dice a large onion and place in a large bowl, then wash and chop a small bunch of parsley leaves and mix into the onion. Add to this mix 300g of finely chopped chicken fillet and 200g un-smoked back bacon. Season as necessary. To check the seasoning fry a small amount of the mixture in a pan. When your happy with the seasoning cover the bowl with cling film and place to one side.

After clearing the decks, so to speak, you need to make the hot water crust pastry. For this put 265g plain flour in a bowl with 55g strong white bread flour and rub in 55g unsalted butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. In a pan put 65g lard and 135ml water and heat until the lard has melted before bringing the water to the boil (be careful if it starts to spit as this is hot fat!). Once the water is boiling remove from the heat and pour into the flour, mixing with a spoon. When the mixture is cool enough to touch (but still warm) tip onto a lightly floured surface and bring the mixture together to form a ball.

Cut away about one third of the mixture and place to one side as this will form the lids later. Now using the remaining dough, which should still be warm, roll out until it is roughly 3mm thick before using a 12cm cutter to stamp out rounds, the way you have rolled it out will determine the amount of rounds you get. I managed to get 8 but it should give you between 8 and 12 from the mixture. Put these rounds into the muffin tin, moulding lightly to the sides being careful not to rip the dough. With any luck these should reach slightly higher than the muffin tin mould themselves. Now take the reserved section of dough and again roll to 3mm thick before using a 6cm cutter to stamp out the same amount of rounds to form the lids to the pies. The trick is to make sure you do all of this when the pastry is warm as it will harden the more it cools and become hard to work with.

Taking the filling mixture you prepared earlier, put a heaped tablespoon of mixture into each of the pastry cases, make sure to fill these well as you want a nice amount of filling when you eat it later. Then cover the pastry cases with a lid, crimping the edges together to seal the pie. Using a chopstick or knife cut a decent size hole (about 5mm) in the middle of each pie so that the heat can escape when you put them in the oven. Brush the pies in either beaten egg or milk and then bake in the oven for 50 minutes until a golden brown in colour.

Whilst the pies are still in the oven, probably about 45 minutes of the way through their bake, soften 2 small leaves of gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes. In a jug dissolve a chicken stock cube with 300ml boiling water, then squeeze the gelatine leaves to remove any water before stirring into the chicken stock mixture. Stir with a spoon until completely dissolved.

When the pies have been removed from the oven, open up the holes in the top if they have sealed over and carefully pour in a small amount of the gelatine mixture. Place the pies to one side and allow to cool completely before chilling in the fridge overnight.

These pies are a great savoury recipe and a good alternative to the classic pork pie. They are small, easy to eat and snack-size, so a great addition to any lunchbox!

The Not So Pork Pie  - Posted on 24th January 2016 -